You want to be a success at the publishing side of this coin. Obviously you do, you hit send on that query/submission. So you do your due diligence and research all the things you as a writer need to do beyond the actual writing. You join various social networks and try blogging and have business cards made and bookmarks of your cover art and plan blog tours and swag giveaways and maybe if you're lucky even real world events. You are proud of the novel you've written and you're going to do the best you can to promote it and make it a success.
And it doesn't work. Then what? First, ease up that death grip on that bottle of tequila. Second, you can only watch Firefly so many times in a row before the urge to write fanfic hits, so be careful. Stop at two marathon viewings. Third, go back to work.
So the book you wrote didn't connect with readers for whatever reason. You will spend a great deal of time trying to figure out why. There's no way around that so I won't even try. The best thing you can do is keep writing, but you may find yourself at a crossroads.
The typical advice you will see is to write from the heart, write the stories you care about, write what only you can write. And that's the best advice. But if you look around the book world you're going to notice some things. You're going to see a hell of a lot of brooding vampires, virile shapeshifters, erotic romance, young adult paranormals with love triangles, and some other trends. You're going to ask yourself, do all these writers really have a vampire/werewolf love triangle as the deepest story of their heart? Or are they writing this trendy stuff because it's what brings all the readers to their yard? And is that a bad thing?
I used to think so but I've changed my mind. Think about it this way: plenty of actors will do big movies that pay really well so they can do off-beat indie stuff that barely pays their gym membership. Plenty of musicians play sorta-secret corporate gigs for ridiculous money. Painters and photographers will take work on commission. So will jewelry designers, sculptors, any number of creative artists. Why should writers be any different? You may scoff at the author that has as many as three or even five or six releases in a year, but do you ever stop to think what drives them? Are they paying their mortgage with that money? Feeding their kids? And what else might they be working on that they don't talk about publicly? Is that "book of the heart" waiting in the wings while they build a name for themselves, pay off bills so they can be more selective about what kind of contract they sign for it, while they hone their craft? If we can understand that a talented photographer took a few suburban wedding gigs to pay for a trip to some beautiful place where they could take really amazing photographs, why can't we understand when writers essentially do the same thing? Not only have they earned themselves money, they've made a customer - a reader - happy, and isn't that one of the big reasons we do what we do?
The difference between writing and publishing is the difference between art and commerce. It's perfectly okay to want both. It's perfectly okay to straddle the line between the two. I certainly wish I could write a book every six or eight weeks that's in one of the hot selling genres and have more contracts than I can keep up with. The desire may be there but I've learned over the past year that not everyone can do this. I haven’t learned how to focus on the publishing and commerce side of things to the extent that I could do it.
Tomorrow in part three of this series I'll talk about writing and art and having a passion for storytelling.